The last 4 months in 5 quick photos

(top to bottom: Marveling at Fort Feline, a Gold Beach Oregon community for feral cats; trying to see possibility vs a lost cause; hiking the gorgeous (Columbia River) Gorge; prepping for an upcoming, multi-event family wedding; taking time to notice a blue and gold fall)

Momentum

Dante, never one to sugarcoat things when writing about hell’s 9 circles or the terrifyingly familiar sins of purgatory, chose to put the phrase a great flame follows a tiny spark into the “Paradiso” section of his masterpiece.

Given that most of the wet matches I brought with me when I clawed my way out of limbo #562 are still drying, it’s a comforting thought. And hey: I’m starting to see flickers of light in some parts of my life and wisps of smoke in others. Surely that’s a positive sign?

Of course I’m hoping I’ll eventually have (contained) flames that qualify as steady-and-ready if not Mr Alighieri’s “great.” In the meantime, however, I’m glad I have what I have—including a better ability to support those trying to move from draining stagnation to freeing stag leap.

…motion is a sure-fire clue there’s momentum of some kind afoot, but it’s surprising how much energy can be conveyed without word, sound, or movement…

(top to bottom: Ilya Idelchik’s vivacious “Flamenco Dancers” grace San Diego’s Spanish Village Art Center; orchids in Balboa Park’s Botanical Building defy homogenity; just outside Granville Island’s totem-carving wonderland, flexing fish bedeck a totem pole that welcomes visitors; artist James Harrison’s glass-centric Ghost Ship casts a 24-hour glow on Portland Oregon’s Eastbank Esplanade)

Expanding my warm weather clothing capsule in a red hot hurry

Between my new job and lots of stunningly beautiful, unseasonably dry weather, I’ve been having quite the fling with spring. Blue skies plus two months of temperatures rocketing into the 70s and 80s equal Vix and Spring, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

Surely nothing could harsh my sunshine-yellow mellow!

Except: I’ve got a regionally appropriate wardrobe, and that region is one where morning radio jocks make (truthful) cracks about summer kicking off July 5th. Plus I’ve moved into a slightly more conservative work environment with a very conservatively dressing boss. And I have a recent past full of items bought to ADD more print and color to my wardrobe of neutral solids.

My closet and I needed seasonal help, and we needed it fast.

In hopes of minimizing purchasing mistakes I forced myself to gather everything I owned that was remotely summery, try the pile on, and assess. Once I’d slogged through the evaluation phase with many a self-congratulatory comment, I knew it was time for some ground rules.

Clothing Capsule Purchasing Goals or, Can’t We All Just Get Along?

  • Simplify integration into my existing work/play capsule by sticking to variations within my color palette
  • Cherry-pick 2013 spring/summer color trends by focusing on cool-toned deep greens and blues, taupes, and medium purples
  • Make transitional weather less of a PITA by growing my collection of prints/patterns that mix dark and light colors
  • Add a lace item; purchase both looser and more fitted shapes; and get more of trends I’ve enjoyed for a few years such as high-low hems and sheer blouses
  • Keep my three style personas happy enough by choosing items that could combine into Contrarian Classicist, Minimalist Magpie, and/or Persnickety Bohemian wholes

Given that I’m a corporate creative, I have some leeway in clothing as expression—but when I start somewhere new, I generally like the focus to be on my work product and ever-so-charming personality, not my more…vivid…clothing items.

Somewhat reluctantly, then, I accepted that I needed to spend money on pieces that COULD work together in an all-quiet ensemble. From there I hit the sales to find things I could wear together or with my existing clothing and accessories.

You Complete Me (for Now): 10 New Pieces I’m Wearing Together + Apart

  • Color-Color
    • emerald/cobalt sleeveless silk print button up shirt
    • blue + purple + taupe floral print shell
    • sheer purple + grey print long-sleeved top
    • white + navy + light blue short-sleeved faux-wrap dress (not shown)
  • Neutrals
    • navy straight leg tropical wool pants
    • ivory + taupe lace pencil skirt
    • lightweight taupe blazer
    • white boho luxe silk blouse
    • black tropical wool sheath dress
    • black + brown + taupe leaf print dress
  • #11
    • cobalt leather work bag big enough to pack all my crap (necessary replacement) 

If I’d given into my baser desires, I would have bought all blues and greens and spent every day humming “La Isla Bonita.”

Using a fairly strict color palette to build my seasonal clothing capsules = a more functional closet + ability to rationalize going overboard with favorite shades (here, Spring/Summer 2013 buys of a cobalt leather work bag, bold emerald-cobalt button-up silk blouse, and navy tropical wool pants)

In the interests of being more well-rounded, however, I decided to look at the hot-to-trot shades for Spring 2013; since time was short, I wanted to choose my color palette variations with an eye to what would be easier to find in stores.

My  2013 Spring/Summer Color Palette, Give or Take: When in buying mode, it’s easier to choose color palette variations from trendy shades — so I looked at the Pantone Spring 2013 forecast and decided to focus my buys on shades close to Emerald, African Violet, and Linen (aka deep green, medium purple, taupe) + navy

Amusingly, buying things I love in colors that flatter sometimes means I’m accidentally on-trendish. Here, new navy pants meet up with a T and high-low hem top from several years ago.

As an (oblivious) early adopter of emerald-colored items, sheer tops, and/or high-low hems, I’m still trying to evaluate how I feel about semi-tucking and slouchy — here, the new navy pants combine with old pals for weekend wear

On a related note, wearing things I love in colors that flatter has resulted in a lot of mullet outfits: they’re sedate from the back but a party in the front.

I dialed up the sedate when I started my new job, but am now easing in some mullet wear (staid from the back, party in the front)…here, navy wool pants plus my Parade of Peacock Feathers Dress worn tunic-style

Another mullet outfit with the new navy pants — this time with my Periwinkle Silk Goes Goddess-y Blouse worn sans sash and tied in a side knot

Of course, sometimes my looks are sedate from the front AND back. I find navy + grey combinations seem to add a banker’s touch to everything…

New items include an ivory/taupe lace pencil skirt + a print shell with blues, purples, and light taupe + a navy cotton blazer — all chosen because they play well with each other and with existing closet items

…especially when a little boho weasels its way into an outfit.

Despite being too-big vs oversized, a $15 price + perfect-to-me colors/print means I bought this floppy-sleeved sheer blouse; I twist, tie, and/or cover to rein in its volume (Top, over a sheath dress for work as a non-flamenco dancer; bottom, for play)

When navy’s not around and grey’s gone missing, though, I rely on blazers and denial to tame drapey boho luxe silks and highly textured tops and bottoms.

Other new items include a highly practical lightweight taupe blazer and a highly impractical but somehow irresistible (hello, Persnickety Bohemian side) white silk shirt

As the final element in my capsule round-up, I offer a rather terrifying-in-retrospect triptych of 99% neutrals. Pay no mind to the mannequin stance and seemingly surgically attached taupe suede boots.

Is this a cheerful study of neutrals, or Vix Paper Dolls #12: A Reflection on the American Office Worker’s Socio-Intellectual Boundaries? Either way, the leaf print dress, taupe blazer, and black sheath dress (worn alone and as a faux-skirt) are now wardrobe staples

Six or so weeks into my fast and furious purchasing, all 10 pieces have passed their road tests with flying colors (and neutrals). Even better, I’m back to a no-fuss closet that gets me from robe to ready in 5 minutes flat. Feel free to share your strategies for capsule dressing below!

Looking for more examples of creating a capsule with a color palette in mind? My pals Fizz (Fall/Winter + Spring/Summer) and Eileen used similar approaches.

Pausing between Stop and Go on Oahu’s North Shore [pt 2]

Previously, I shared how I eased into a week of island life by wandering around some of the North Shore’s laid-back beaches, towns, and nature reserves. Looking for a rinse, lather, repeat scenario? Then read on.

Back when I had more of a brain, I swear I read that new experiences—be they pleasant or stressful—focus the senses. How else to explain the fact that I’m terribly oblivious to things in my real-life surroundings, but tend to skew much more I was blind but now I see on vacation?

On Oahu’s North Shore, a watchful figurine keeps an eye on the waves and those who ride them

Even if I’m mistaken, surely being relaxed enough to notice the striking markings on neighborly geese, green sea turtles, and dogs was a sign of positive things happening to my body and/or soul.

Renting a tucked-away space on property one hour and a world away from Honolulu airport increases the odds of sharing space with real personalities

Since the line between “attentive” and “obsessed” can be a bit blurred for me, though, I’ll keep mum about how many times rocks had a starring role in my photos.

The historic Lili’uokalani Protestant Church sits right in the thick of what passes for action in low-key Haleiwa

Admittedly admiring the stones’ craggy textures and subtle shadings was easier from land than from sea. Bad enough that I’m incapable of getting out of ocean swell without banging myself up on any nearby rock—once Mr Vix and I decided to attempt standup paddleboarding my seemingly magnetic attraction to hard, jagged lumps became even more problematic.

I didn’t realize that until I was actually on (or more accurately off-and-on) a board, of course. Others made wafting across glossy water look so effortless!

At least my athletically inclined companion was also quite…challenged…by the activity. As the dunkings mounted and the learning curve refused to budge, we exchanged meaningful looks with the small dogs hitching a ride with their paddling owners.

Top, standup paddleboarding in Waialua Bay looked so simple; Bottom, my trusty hat and I were both wet and bedraggled after my first attempt at monkey-do

Luckily, our second attempt to SUP was a much closer match to our fantasy script. Late afternoon sun, stretches of the stunning Anahulu Stream to ourselves, green turtles sunning themselves on the banks, and actually STANDING UP versus kneeling or falling in.

While mere onlookers a few years ago, this visit we were the ones standup paddleboarding along the ridiculously picturesque and tranquil Anahulu Stream while bathed in golden light

Though I’d arrived on the island wanting to spend every daylight minute of my trip in the water, laziness and nosiness won out. Even in the relatively remote North Shore area, we had to make concessions as to which activities could be fit in and which canned due to time. Which may be why Haleiwa was officially named a historic, scenic, and cultural district in the early ’80s, but what do I know?

What I do know is that there were plenty of minutes on our trip for both repeat stops at juice bars and for capturing the business end of a watersports shop…

L, Don’t even think about leaving Lanikai Juice and its heaps of locally grown goodness without an antioxidant rainbow in your hand; R, a local watersport landmark continues its bold color scheme around the back

…as well as for aimless driving around that let us admire small businesses in action and repose…

A moment of rest at Paradise Shrimp Farm’s roadside stand in Waialua

…and for taking in views where volcanically pigmented earth met up with sky and luxurious growth.

While sugarcane’s influence continues to decline, this drive-by shot gives a glimpse of how agriculture still rules on Oahu’s North Shore—good news for fans of the island’s pineapple, coffee, vegetables, and more

All of which made me (once again) glad that so many West Coasters consider Oahu the proverbial red-headed stepchild of the islands. I don’t know how anyone can turn up their nose at a spot that has all of the above plus the gorgeous Waimea Valley Reserve, but hey: more exotic tropical foliage, wildlife, and archeological remnants for me.

Enter the public portion of Waimea Valley Reserve’s nearly 2000 acres and discover a setting filled with tropical foliage and wildlife…including some endangered strains and species

At the Waimea Valley Reserve, beauty and critters are around every corner, and amazing birdsong seems to accompany one along every path

Though just a North Shore visitor, I’m aware that the area’s last 100+ years of history includes colonialism and careless use of the land as well as typical 21st century social problems. And while the busy town of Wahiawa may not be full of rural delights, I’m glad there’s a story of renewal and preservation unfolding there that’s a counterpart to the conservation efforts in the Reserve.

Wahiawa’s 2011 public transportation center acknowledge’s the town’s present needs and pineapple plantation-centric past

So here’s to places that share their beauty and their history, their changes and their struggles, their stories and their bounty. Sometimes the exchange is exactly what’s needed to create a bridge from one’s own past to a richer, more colorful future.

Kamehameha Highway has little in common with its 4-lane-plus cousins, winding along the North Shore’s beaches, towns, and agricultural parcels

PSA: Take a history-laden video tour of Waimea Valley Reserve

Pausing between Stop and Go on Oahu’s North Shore [pt 1]

Leaving a job that was well past its sell-by date for something with lots of tangible improvements—and the promise of intangible ones—should have been incredibly easy. But no: I exited dragging a chunk of reluctance behind me thanks to a core group of amazing co-workers I didn’t want to give up. Co-workers who’d provided daily laughs, intelligent insights, reliable teamwork, and empathy.

Plus genuine happiness when they heard I’d whipped together a week of escapism before starting over in a new environment. They couldn’t go unwind and have fun, dammit, but since I could I certainly should.

To them, I was the soot-choked canary weakly fluttering toward blue sky, the newly elected mascot of Team Save the Drama for Your Mama, the lucky thing who’d been handed pudding filled with proof we all deserved better.

Clearly I needed to do them proud in spite of my tight timeline and eroded energy. I went for a classic solution: a brain/body reset in Hawaii. With nothing from the old or new job to worry about, relaxing into island life happened surprisingly fast.

Easing into island life

Due to plane fares and vacation rental openings and preferences I ended up on Oahu’s rural, romantic North Shore. Mr Vix and I arrived as the surf season was winding down, which meant we only got to ogle folks on 25-foot waves vs 50-foot ones. And we found the smaller beaches sparsely populated even on weekends.

Somehow neither seemed like genuine hardship.

Surfers aside, daily walks along Kawailoa Beach usually featured more fishing poles than people

While we’d explored a lot of Oahu during our last visit to the island—including a couple of day trips to the North Shore—we deliberately stuck close to our temporary home this time. “Close” being a relative term, of course. As visitors, it seemed rude to ignore ALL of the outdoor activities that promised to take us farther and farther from the realities of everyday life, so off we went.

From an end-of-the-road trail that led to an oceanside preservation zone but came with pleasant diversions…

After a dusty hike in to the remote Ka’ena Point Reserve, I enjoyed a both-eyes-on-the-winter-surf-beyond reward while hiking out

…to encountering creatures who put my attempt at snazziness to shame…

Despite blue-green-grey colors and iridescent shoes, getting out-peacocked by a too-fast-for-me…well, peacock

At the Waimea Valley Reserve, a finally-still peacock provides a lesson in pattern-mixing

…to reminders of the ocean’s power—

Though I knew the North Shore’s legendary waves and riptides might rule out daily swimming, I was able to find protected spots without much trouble

and its beauty—I spent my days in a haze of delight. I’d arrived hoping for daily swims, and lucked out by finding local spots too boring for surfers but awesome for me.

At the end of Dillingham Airfield, Army Beach offers sandy shores, crystalline water, and a perfect spot to cool off after hiking to Ka’ena Point as long as the surf cooperates

Out of the water, plenty of intriguing visual stories drew me in. While the late Ron Artis’ community-driven work brightens many North Shore landmarks and gives locals and visitors alike windows into the past…

Storytelling is embedded in Hawaiian culture; here, musician-turned-artist Ron Artis’ work beautifies a storage unit outside Haleiwa and Wahiawa’s Sunny Side bakery

…one can also find communications that call for respect but vary in permanence…

Informal meets formal reverence: L, a call to keep the remote road/path to Ka’ena Point from becoming a dumping ground; R, the Waialua-Kahuku War Memorial

…hauntingly beautiful structures that leave the viewers with more questions than answers…

Vacant for more than 60 years, the former Waialeʻe Industrial School For Boys–a reform school–occupies prime North Shore real estate

…plus spots sacred in ancient Hawaiian culture and protected today.

L, Recent offerings at c. 1600s religious temple Pu’u o Mahuka Heiau, likely a place of past human sacrifices; R, haunting eyes adorn an abandoned military bunker at Ka’ena Point, another sacred spot in Hawaiian culture

As we soaked up the sun along with the sights, I could feel long-term tension start to erode—and believe me, that’s a story my body’s been longing to tell.

Next: Part 2 of Pausing between Stop and Go on Oahu’s North Shore, in which I reveal my apparent fascination with stones, empty space, and exotic red flora

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